Life Skills and Citizenship Education Initiative
Middle East and North Africa
مبادرة تعليم المهارات الحياتية والمواطنة
الشرق الأوسط وشمال افريقيا


The LSCE Initiative is led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with partners at country, regional and global levels. It brings together the active contribution of the Arab League Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ALECSO), along with Ministries of Education and other national institutions responsible for education across the MENA countries. Regional and global partners include: Aflatoun International, the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR), Birzeit University (BZU), Deutsche Post DHL Group, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Youth Foundation (IYF), Mercy Corps, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), the World Bank, and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The LSCE Initiative proposes a holistic and transformative vision of education based on four essential premises: 

A holistic approach to education: The vision is underpinned by a holistic approach to education, considering the whole learner by acknowledging the multi-dimensionality of education, which plays not only into the cognitive, but also the individual and social realms, especially with regard to personal development, social cohesion and sustainable development.

A humanistic and right-based approach: Quality education is not value-neutral and must have a transformative effect. Quality education needs to be sustained by a strong ethical foundation, which recognizes that education fosters human dignity, before economic performance, and promotes human rights-based values.

A life-long learning cycle: Life skills acquisition is understood as a cumulative investment from an early age, not only for adolescents and for adults. It builds on the assumption that, at every age, every individual is a learner in the context of a society that offers multiple opportunities throughout life to learn and fulfil personal potential, thus going beyond the traditional distinctions between initial and continuing education.

A multiple pathways and systems approach: Quality education can be effective in fostering learning and individual empowerment, and creating an environment that enables social inter-connectedness. If life skills and citizenship education is furthered through multiple learning pathways, from formal education to informal settings to the workplace, it can reach all individuals. In turn, quality learning through life skills and citizenship education can be sustained only if it is mainstreamed in educational systems.

The Conceptual and Programmatic Framework (CPF) for LSCE

The Conceptual and Programmatic Framework (CPF) for LSCE

A clear holistic vision and working definition of life skills and citizenship education

The CPF proposes a conceptual and definitional understanding of 21st-century skills based on a four-dimensional model of learning. This model consolidates and broadens the lifelong learning paradigm developed in the 1996 Delors report titled Learning: The Treasure Within, taking into consideration the subsequent developments in education and society. The CPF repositions the Delors report pillars of education as Dimensions of Learning to emphasize their dynamic nature.

This ‘four-dimensional’ model of learning proposes for each Dimension a skills cluster of associated life skills, among which 12 are identified as ‘core life skills.’ These identified core life skills need to be differentiated from ‘subject areas’, which are specific and thematic, technical or academic areas of teaching and learning where life skills are usually integrated. Subject areas include, for instance, curricular and vocational disciplines, career and entrepreneurship education, computer literacy, health and environmental education, emergency education, peace education, civic education, arts, culture and sports, etc.

A multiple pathways approach

The multiple pathways approach focuses on three programmatic components: teaching and learning approaches, channels of delivery, and modalities of delivery.

Effective teaching and learning approaches are the connecting thread to successful learning through life skills and citizenship education. Changing the attitudes and improving the classroom practices of teachers represents the most promising entry point in bringing about systemic change.

Multiple channels of delivery are important to maximize participation and to further equity and inclusion of marginalized populations. These channels include: formal, non-formal and informal education programmes in the work place and ‘on the road to’ the work place; social engagement programmes such as volunteer and community work; and child protection programmes in child friendly safe spaces and other fields. The modalities of delivery include: curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular modalities; standalone or integrated approaches; and face-to-face, online and blended forms of learning. A multiple pathways approach is critical to ensure that what is learnt in the classroom is supported by what is experienced outside of school within different environments where children and youth learn.

A systems approach

The CPF proposes a systems approach to programming for life skills and citizenship education, anchored to national education systems. A systems approach is required to achieve critical mass; national impact cannot be realized through the implementation of unconnected
small-scale interventions at the margins of the education system. The systems approach to programming for life skills and citizenship education also warrants an equity focus because it can invest data, analysis and monitoring in tracking and targeting as means to maximize the impact of learning opportunities available to children and youth.

Effective life skills and citizenship education requires enabling national policies, plans and strategies as well as dedicated budgets. Furthermore, the commitment of and cooperation among partners, together with structured coordination and partnership frameworks (sector approaches) must accompany policies, plans and strategies to ensure the necessary coherence and complementarity of interventions. Investment in human resources is at the core of quality learning processes and outcomes. This should be accompanied by school-based management initiatives, which secure an enabling environment in schools, and in the surrounding society through communication and community participation. Quality assurance, including robust monitoring and evaluation arrangements and changes to existing assessment strategies, will ensure that life skills and citizenship education meet the objectives set in the national policy frameworks as well as at different levels of programming.